Alimony, or spousal support, is the payment by one spouse to another of a certain sum of money, paid either during the pendency of a divorce case (“temporary alimony”) or after the divorce is finalized. Courts examine the circumstances of each case, focusing on two basic elements: one party’s need for alimony and the other party’s ability to pay.
There are different types of alimony that may be paid after the divorce is final: (1) permanent periodic alimony, (2) durational alimony, (3) rehabilitative alimony, (4) lump sum alimony, or (5) bridge-the-gap alimony. Determining which type of alimony a party may receive is often dependent on how long the parties have been married, as well as other factors. For purposes of determining alimony, there is a rebuttable presumption that a short-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of less than 7 years, a moderate-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of greater than 7 years but less than 17 years, and long-term marriage is a marriage having a duration of 17 years or greater. The length of a marriage is the period of time from the date of marriage until the date of the actual filing of an action for dissolution of marriage.
- Permanent periodic alimony is generally paid on a monthly basis after a divorce until the death of either party, or the remarriage or proven supportive relationship of the recipient spouse. It is generally only awarded in long-term marriages. Courts will award this type of alimony in a divorce when there is a discrepancy between the parties’ incomes, such that the recipient spouse needs the alimony to pay his or her living expenses. A recent change in the law allows for termination of the alimony if the recipient spouse cohabits with another person in a “supportive relationship.”
- Durational alimony may be awarded when permanent periodic alimony is inappropriate. The purpose of durational alimony is to provide a party with economic assistance for a set period of time following a marriage of short or moderate duration. An award of durational alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the remarriage of the party receiving alimony. The amount of an award of durational alimony may be modified or terminated based upon a substantial change in circumstances. However, the length of an award of durational alimony may not be modified except under exceptional circumstances and may not exceed the length of the marriage.
- Rehabilitative alimony is alimony paid for a specific period of time after a divorce to allow the recipient spouse sufficient time to acquire new education or skills to re-enter the work force after a divorce. As an example, it may be paid to a stay-at-home mom for four years to allow her to earn a degree to get a better paying job.
- Lump sum alimony is a one-time payment made by the payor spouse to the recipient spouse after a divorce.
- Bridge the gap alimony is paid for a relatively short duration after a divorce to help the recipient spouse get back on his or her feet after the end of the marriage, to “bridge-the-gap” between married and single life.
The alimony statute is Florida Statute section 61.08. Unlike child support, there are no statutory guidelines that a Court uses to determine how much alimony should be paid after a divorce. Therefore, predicting the amount and duration of alimony in any given case is difficult. There are, however, a number of factors that the Court uses to determine how much alimony should be paid, including but not limited to the following:
- The standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, health, and emotional condition of the parties;
- The financial resources of each party, and the assets and debts distributed to each;
- When applicable, the time necessary for either party to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment;
- The contribution each party made to the marriage, including homemaking, child care, and other contributions;
- The incomes of both parties;
- Any other factor the Court finds necessary to do justice between the parties.
At The Women’s Law Group, we take the time to discuss your situation and the likelihood of a successful alimony claim in a Tampa divorce case.